29 May 20 Tips: What Happens if the Officer Does Not Show Up for My Traffic Ticket?
20 Tips: What Happens if the Officer Does Not Show Up for My Traffic Ticket?
One of the most commonly asked traffic ticket-related questions as per ny-defense.com by clients is: if the officer doesn’t show up to court, will my case be dismissed? Well, as is with a lot of things in law, the answer is, it depends. This article will look to dig deeper and find an answer for you.
Your case may be dismissed
It is possible that if you appear in court as required prepared to fight your ticket, but the officer who issued the ticket doesn’t appear, then this could result in a dismissal. As discussed at ny-defense.com, this is because, without the issuing officer, the People can’t prove its case against you, and in such situations, you can request to have your case dismissed.
Why is this scenario grounds for dismissal?
According to the Sixth Amendment of the US Constitution, you have the right to be confronted by your accusers. Since the officer is the only witness to your alleged offense, not only does his/her absence mean that there is nobody to corroborate the information in the ticket, but it also means that your constitutional rights would be violated if the trial was to go ahead.
Will your request for dismissal be granted?
In most cases, you are unlikely to get a dismissal after one no-show. Most courts and judges require two or more no-shows by the issuing officer before considering dismissing the ticket, hence it is unlikely that you will get your case dismissed after just one no-show.
Officers usually give a reason for their absence
If the officer doesn’t show up for court as scheduled, he/she will usually provide a reason as to why this is the case according to ny-defense.com. If the officer doesn’t show up for his/her court date, he/she will likely have called in with some reason. Maybe he/she is sick or is attending the burial of a family member, or even an official duty that prevents him/her from showing up.
What happens if the officer has sent in a reason why they are absent?
As already mentioned, officers will usually call in to give a reason as to why they have not appeared in court. In such a situation, the judge will likely issue a continuance allowing for the case to be heard during the next time the officer is due to appear in court, especially if the officer gives a reasonable reason as to why they are absent.
What if the officer doesn’t give a reason?
As pointed out by ny-defense.com, if the officer simply doesn’t show up and doesn’t call or communicate in some way to the court about why they haven’t shown up, and the court or the clerks try to reach them and they are unable to, then the judge may dismiss the case. However, this is a very rare occurrence.
The judge may still dismiss even if the officer has an excuse as to why they haven’t shown up
If you called into the court sick or with any other credible excuse as to why you can’t make it to court, the judge will likely give you a continuance. The same courtesy is likely to be extended to an officer who notifies the court about why they are not there. However, some judges won’t do that. Therefore, if it is your lucky day, even if the officer has a valid excuse not to be there, some judges might still dismiss the case.
The myth that officers don’t show up in court
The question about what would happen if the officer doesn’t show up is a common one because there is a myth that officers don’t come to court. However, as per ny-defense.com, that is just a myth. In reality, police officers almost always show up in court, and if they don’t, they will have a valid reason as to why they didn’t.
Officers in certain states have a day when they are required to be in court
In some states, officers have one day per month when they are required to attend each court, although this rule varies upon the county or court where the case is pending. Most of the time, the officer will be present in court as they will have lots of other cases that day and they are going to be there to handle all of their cases.
Police commands dedicated to traffic enforcement
Also, most states, including New York, have entire police commands dedicated entirely to traffic enforcement. In New York City, this is called the Citywide Traffic Task Force (CTTF), which spans all 5 boroughs with hundreds of police officers whose job is to write traffic tickets. It, therefore, doesn’t make any sense for an officer who specializes in traffic violations to write you up and then fail to show up in court.
It is the officer’s job
If you are wondering whether officers show up in court or not, then ask yourself this question – do you show up for your job? The answer is yes, and the same applies to police officers, especially those who specialize in traffic violations. It is part of their job to show up in court, which is why they normally do according to ny-defense.com.
It is part of the officer’s schedule
It is also worth pointing out that the officers who write many tickets have traffic court appearances etched into their regular schedules. Some will appear in court every Monday morning at 8.30 am, while others will appear on another day and time. Some even appear in court two or three days each week because they write too many tickets.
The officer has something to lose
Another reason why your issuing officer will likely show up for your traffic ticket is that they have an incentive to do so. This is because, in many precincts, officers stand to lose vacation time and other benefits if they miss court dates. Traffic ticket lawyers like ny-defense.com know of police officers who have not missed a single court date in more than 10 years because of this.
As already mentioned, there are exceptions to the rule, and there are several reasons why a cop may not show up. Rather than illness, personal matters, or emergencies as already mentioned, an officer may retire or leave the force. If this happens before they attend to your ticket, then you may be lucky and get your ticket dismissed.
The myth about a continuance making it more likely that your case will be dismissed
Tied to the myth about officers not showing in court which leads to dismissals is the myth that continuing your case will make it even more likely that the officer in question won’t show up for the rescheduled date. However, this is not true as we will see.
Why is the myth from the previous point not true?
As already mentioned, officers usually have a regular court date(s) each month or week, depending on the state, city, or town, in each court. Therefore, as explained at ny-defense.com, if a case is continued either by the court, the defendant, or the officer, then the continuance will be to the officer’s next regular court date, in almost all cases.
Your case won’t be rescheduled to a random day
From the previous point, it is clear that your case won’t be rescheduled to some random day where the officer doesn’t have any other cases in court. The fact that it will be rescheduled to a day when the officer is scheduled to appear and has other cases means that they will have a strong incentive to show up. Therefore, the idea that continuing your case will increase the chances of the officer not showing up, and, therefore, a dismissal, is just that, a myth.
Chain of command
Another reason why officers almost always show up in court is that they work under a clear chain of command. The officer who issued you the traffic ticket doesn’t work in isolation, as he/she has senior officers above him/her who will make sure he/she does his/her job, part of which is to show up in court as already stated.
You have to be there to get a dismissal
While there is a likelihood that your case may be dismissed if the officer doesn’t show up, especially if it is several no-shows, it won’t happen if you are not there. As articulated at ny-defense.com, don’t expect a dismissal if you are not in court and you don’t have an attorney there, even if the officer is also not there. If you don’t show up in court and the officer doesn’t show up too, the judge will just continue the case.
Hiring an attorney gives you the best chance of success
Finally, as you can see from the foregoing discussion, police officers almost always show up in court when required to. So, to be safe, expect your officer to appear in court, ready to testify. This means, rather than showing up alone to represent yourself, give yourself the best chance of a good outcome by hiring an attorney. Even if the officer doesn’t show up, hiring an attorney gives you better odds of winning because of an officer’s non-appearance. Attorneys know when officers are in court, know them by name, and can recognize their faces. Attorneys also know if an officer is about to retire shortly, among other details that may prove useful.
If you are issued a traffic ticket in New York, don’t hesitate to reach out to ny-defense.com for assistance, including help getting your ticket dismissed if possible.